I was excited to introduce the third episode of the Zscaler summer CXO Summit events. In this episode, visionary CXO leaders discussed the importance of user experience and how using digital experience monitoring (DEM) tools to troubleshoot infrastructure outside of IT control is crucial to maintaining application performance and employee productivity in the work-from-anywhere world.
Both the Americas and European sessions of this CXO Summit episode, titled Productivity, Efficiency, and Speed: Why Digital Experience Matters, featured a panel session of technology leaders sharing insights into how digital experience monitoring tools help improve user experience by providing end-to-end visibility across user devices, internet connections, and SaaS/cloud applications.
In the Americas session, Zscaler’s Vice President of Product Strategy Sanjit Ganguli moderated a panel that included Paul Reyes, Chief Information Security Officer, Vistra Corp, and Eric Fisher, Director of Enterprise IT, GROWMARK. In the European session, Sanjit spoke with Rohit Adlakha, Former Chief Digital & Information Officer and Global Head, Wipro, and Howard Sherrington, Former Executive Product Manager Networks + Security, BBC.
Today’s environment includes apps, assets, and services hosted in the cloud, with users and customers accessing them directly over the internet on a host of mobile devices. That's created a massive visibility gap for IT teams.
IT’s ability to guarantee digital experience without that visibility is nearly impossible. DEM tools can fill that gap. However, leadership must drive user experience monitoring as part of a secure transformation culture with clear department and individual responsibilities. These mandates must contain as little user “friction” as possible, and users should experience as few barriers as possible to getting what they need. DEM tools and zero trust can help with transformation goals by ensuring both productivity and security.
Here are some of the key takeaways from the two discussions.
Consumer technology pushes peoples’ expectations for corporate technology
Our panel noted how the “Apples” of the world—in other words, influential consumer technology companies—have increased user expectations of what a digital experience is. Enterprise IT has struggled to keep up.
Former Wipro Chief Digital & Information Officer and Global Head Rohit Adlakha noted: “The fourth industrial revolution has ushered in a whole new idea about speed and instant gratification. The millennial world has entered the corporate world now, and people don’t differentiate between the corporate and the personal world any longer.”
Vistra Corp CISO Paul Reyes relayed how there is little user patience for complications when it comes to deploying new technology and security for work-from-anywhere technology: “When we try to roll out a multifactor solution that impacted the productivity of our employees and our customers, we felt pushback from the business. We're here to provide services to our stakeholders. We have to find that balance between security, objective, and experience.”
Howard Sherrington, the former Executive Product Manager, Networks and Security at the BBC, remarked: “It's probably worth pointing out that most companies now consume IT in the same way they would other utilities to empower the business. But it's often implemented to meet an immediate business need without a full strategy or a full understanding of the implications of doing it.”
Organizations must adapt to quickly to change, from the top down
The entire work landscape changed over the last year. Nearly everybody had to work from home, forcing IT teams to adapt quickly. This caused a lot of disruption as people struggled to make old systems fit new circumstances. Suddenly, visibility and security gaps appeared that no one anticipated.
Eric Fisher, Director of Enterprise IT, GROWMARK, remarked, “Our people operate from some very challenging locations and need to be connected all the time. COVID highlighted the weak performance spots in our network. Experience monitoring was crucial to fixing issues.”
Paul Reyes, Chief Information Security Officer, Vistra Corp, commented: “We would turn on some services and find that we had a backlash, and we had no visibility into why. Simply moving a pathway from one direction to another, without realizing it was dependent on a direct IP address or static route to another location, could suddenly break connections.”
Visibility is the secret to optimizing user experience
Many problems lie outside IT’s traditional domain. A performance problem can cause cultural, political, or technological issues that create a “hot potato” game about where the issue lies: is it the network, application, or security? This can result in an interruption in solving the problem. Both Paul and Eric agreed that using digital experience monitoring tools for better visibility is key to getting the required data so that people can concentrate on fixing issues:
Paul: “We need visibility into the mass items of change: standing up plants, reducing site architecture, and creating new websites. DEM tools allow us to start to identify patterns on where traffic is going. I hate to say it, but being remote, being on a call, and being able to look at each other on Zoom and looking at data altogether, has helped that conversation. You're looking at the data, and we can all see an issue at our access point or our SD-WAN. Our conversations are a lot more civil because we're looking at the same data.”
Eric: “The data doesn't lie. Having the data reduces finger-pointing. It helps the team understand the issues and help the customer. Sometimes it's the CPU on the machine. Sometimes it's a WiFi access point that's not performing well. With DEM visibility, we can get to a consensus agreement and resolution a lot faster.”
Users will insist on a frictionless experience
User experience is critical, but it also has to be a secure user experience. Leadership must understand the need for a transparent, frictionless solution (like zero trust). Setting a top-down expectation for experience and security is critical, and a DEM tool can help successfully improve user experience for new technology deployments.
Rohit: “With everything in the cloud, workloads shift from one cloud provider to the other. This inter-cloud movement of data makes security extremely challenging. Putting a legacy security overlay on disparate networks, people, and applications becomes incredibly complicated, expensive, and confusing. DEM tools allow me to verify user experience as I’m doing it.”
Paul: “Senior leadership must be all on the same page from top-down—from the board, to the CEO, to senior leadership. We must appropriately balance the objectives of security and experience.”
Eric: “Everyone thinks the internet is free, but it's magic to a lot of people. People don’t know what it takes to connect them from remote locations to needed applications and assets, and don’t care. So leadership must understand what the user experience trade-off is for security, and what we’re asking staff and customers to do.”
About the Zscaler CXO Summit Summer 2021 Series
The new cyber-threat era is complex, accelerated, and unrelenting. It demands leaders who can prioritize agility over complexity, security over complacency, and innovation over stagnation. Achieving those enterprise objectives requires perseverance, collaboration, and secure digital transformation. The Zscaler Virtual CXO Summit brings together industry-leading CIOs, CTOs, CDOs, and CISOs to share insights, expertise, and experience. The Summer 2021 Series focuses on the theme “The New Enterprise CXO Priorities: Secure Cloud Workloads, Optimize Performance, Preserve the Environment.”
- Watch episode #1, “Reducing the Risk and Complexity of Secure Cloud Deployment” - Americas/EMEA
- Watch episode #2, “Reducing the IT Carbon Footprint: The Case for Green Security” - Americas/EMEA
- Watch episode #3, “Productivity, Efficiency, and Speed: Why Digital Experience Matters” - Americas/EMEA
The Zscaler CXO Summit series is over for the Summer but will start again in October with a Global CXO Summit. Don’t miss hearing from CXO technology leaders on how they successfully implemented digital transformation journeys at Global 2000 companies.
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